In a competition for the title of world's most beautiful country, Norway always scores high marks. Bergen sits pretty as the country's loveliest city and the gateway to its magnificent fjords. In short: it deserves a place on your bucket list.
Icelandair offers regular cheap flights to Bergen from North America for a winning dose of city life meeting sublime nature. Cruise those fab fjords, hike the heady mountain trails, then enjoy some sophisticated urbane treats.
Before you reach Bergen, care to check out Iceland's magical fjords and compare nature's handiwork? When you book flights to Bergen with Icelandair you have the opportunity to add a stopover in Iceland at no additional airfare.
Bergen's charm offensive starts at Bryggen. This is the Unesco-recognized old quarter on the east side of the harbor, and it’s a photographer's dream, filled with colorful wooden buildings and narrow cobbled alleys that house boutiques, artisan studios and seafood restaurants. It looks especially fine when viewed from the top of Mt Fløyen (1050ft) - ride the iconic Fløibanen cable car up here, then follow some view-blessed forest trails.
It rains a lot in Bergen (we're allowed to say that, we're from Iceland), but that doesn't need to put a dampener on sightseeing. Head to the excellent aquarium to say hello to fish, penguins and sharks; pay respects at a unique stave church; or head to museums to discover the rich local stories of Vikings, composers and artists.
Hit central Fisketorget (the fish market) for a reminder of how important fish are to the Norwegian diet, and to sample tasty seafood freshly plucked from clear, cold waters. Stalls sell sandwiches bursting with prawns, crab or salmon, or you can grab fish and chips or a bowl of the city's celebrated fish soup.
It’s not all fishy business, though. Bergen has an acclaimed dining scene, with classic old-school restaurants in historic waterfront buildings, plus modern, new Nordic chefs weaving culinary magic with seasonal local ingredients (seafood, of course, but also game, and wild berries). Wine bars, cool cafes, and microbreweries are fine spots to spend a few hours - especially if they come with a soothing vista of mountains and sea.
There's no denying it, Bergen is lovely, and a big part of that loveliness comes from its enviable surrounds: seven mountains ring the city, and a fjord-slashed coast is on the doorstep. Many visitors come solely for a taste of that memorable coastline and boat tours provide hours of panoramic pleasure. With time on your hands, consider a journey on the renowned Hurtigruten ferries. These give you the chance to blow your mind along some jaw-dropping coastline, north from Bergen as far as remote Kirkenes, via islets, archipelagos and isolated towns.
Prefer to stay on solid ground? Climb a local mountain like Fløyen or Ulriken, or head to the gorgeous Hardangerfjord region. Travel further by taking the train from Bergen to Oslo, considered one of the world's most beautiful train journeys.